An East High School student who recently was convicted of two felonies in connection with a school hazing incident was scheduled to plead guilty to amended charges involving other alleged crimes on Friday but told the judge he wasn't thinking right because he was sick with the flu.
Third District Juvenile Judge Dane Nolan rescheduled the plea deal/sentencing hearing for March 11.
"This is an important decision, and I want you thinking clearly," Nolan told the 16-year-old.
Judges in both juvenile and adult court routinely explain the rights an individual is relinquishing when entering into a plea bargain, which severely limits a person's ability to appeal later on. Typically, judges also ask defendants a number of other questions such as whether a defendant is making the decision voluntarily, whether the person is under the influence of any medication or any other substance, and if the individual understands the ramifications of admitting guilt.
Court documents show the the youth is charged with two counts of attempted sodomy on a child, a second-degree felony; two counts of aggravated assault, a third-degree felony; and lewdness involving a child, also a third-degree felony.
Court documents state the teen held a gun to an 11-year-old boy's head and to the head of another child, and also demanded at one point that the 11-year-old perform a sex act on him. Prosecutors also said that the teen, on another occasion, held a gun to an 8-year-old child's head, and at one point insisted the child perform a sex act on him, which the younger child refused to do. The teen also committed a sex act in front of the younger child, according to the legal documents.
Prosecutor Narda Beas-Nordell told the judge a plea agreement had been reached that is satisfactory to the mother of the two younger children.
It calls for the teenager to plead guilty to two counts of class A misdemeanor lewdness involving a child. The other charges would then be dropped.
After the hearing, she said that prosecutors do not want to "pile on" more charges for this teen now that he has been convicted of felonies, but instead want him to get the help that he needs.
If this plea bargain is finalized, it will provide some satisfaction for the young victims, who deserve to know that adults believe them and it will offer some resolution and closure for them, she said.
Meanwhile, the teen is in juvenile detention regarding the high school hazing incident. He was found guilty last month of forcible sexual abuse and attempted forcible sodomy, both first-degree felonies, and another charge of class A misdemeanor lewdness.Where he will be placed and what type of treatment he will receive will be determined once a sexual behavior risk assessment is completed, Beas-Nordell said.